Mike’s Take

Mike Fratello and Jessica Taff discuss the new addition of Gerald Wallace and the impact of Gerald Green since joining the Nets.

Gameday Dish: Nets vs. Magic

The New Jersey Nets venture to central Florida tonight to take on the still Dwight Howard-led Orlando Magic. Nets fans’ hopes of landing the 26-year-old, 4X First-Team All-NBA center were dashed yesterday when Howard signed a waiver and forfeited his right to opt out of his contract at the end of this season.

With plan A scuttled, Nets GM Billy King made another move prior to Thursday’s 3PM trade deadline. King dealt 10th-year, 6’11” Mehmet Okur (valuable because of his expiring contract), 6th-year, 6’9” Shawne Williams and a top-3 protected first-round draft pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for 12th-year, 29-year-old, 6’7” SF Gerald Wallace.

Wallace is averaging 13.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg and 35.8 minutes per game this season. The high-motor Wallace is an above-average defender who excels at hustle plays. With coach Avery Johnson’s roster depleted by injury, he’ll want Wallace to suit up as soon as possible.

The Nets last played and won on Wednesday night in Toronto, 98-84. They prevailed even with starting PG Deron Williams missing his third straight game with a strained left calf and starting center Brook Lopez sitting out his sixth contest in a row with a sprained right ankle. In their absence, Gerald Green (now on his second ten- day contract) scored 26 points, and PF Kris Humphries made out with 16 points and a career-high 21 boards.

Dwight Howard had 22 points and 12 rebounds in his squad’s 122-111 loss at San Antonio on Wednesday. Orlando (28-16) sits third in the East behind their Southeast rivals the Miami Heat. With the playoffs firmly in their grasp, the Magic and other top teams will strive to achieve the delicate balance of pacing themselves without losing momentum heading into the postseason.

Tonight the Nets and Magic will square off for the third and last time this compacted regular season. They met on December 29th in Orlando with coach Stan Van Gundy’s guys besting the Garden State gang, 94-78. Howard pulled down 24 boards in the win. And on February 22nd in Jersey, the Magic won 108-91 with the crowd chanting Howard’s name because he mentioned that the Nets were one of his preferred franchises to be traded to. Look for the Magic home crowd to greet Howard with an extra-rousing ovation tonight.

Now that the trade deadline has come and gone and rosters are mostly set for the final third of the regular season, teams can focus on playing basketball and making a playoff run. Tune in to YES at 7:30 PM ET to see if the Nets can pick up a W on the road after seven straight defeats in O-Town and put an end to the Magic’s 10-game win streak against them.

Czar’s Season Update: Blazers-Bobcats Trade

[nba-video vid=channels/nba_tv/2011/02/24/20110224_tradeshow_por_cha.nba]

Fratello Telestrator: Gerald Wallace

[nba-video vid=channels/tnt_overtime/2011/02/12/20110212_fratello_tele_wallace.nba]


Gameday Dish: Charlotte Bobcats at New Jersey Nets

Prokhorov’s Nets will host Jordan’s Bobcats in Newark this evening. It should be a competitive contest. Both the Bobcats and Nets are trying to establish winning habits early and carry them through the remainder of the season in order to have a shot at the playoffs.

This is a big game for the Nets as Coach Avery Johnson needs to convince his team that they are good enough to challenge for a playoff spot. The Nets stand at 2 and 1 after three games – a drastic improvement over last year’s 18 straight L’s to begin the season.

The Charlotte Bobcats on the other hand are 0 and 3, so Coach Larry Brown will be anxious to get a win under his belt. Last season the 2004 expansion team kept the Bulls and Raptors at bay to clinch the seventh spot in the East and their first playoff berth. Now that they’ve tasted the postseason, the Bobcats will be hungry to return for seconds and hopefully better their playoff record with some wins.

The Bobcats were only 13-28 away from home last year, and that included a loss at New Jersey on December 4th, 2009, to break the Nets’ 18-game-season-opening losing streak. However, the Bobcats later defeated the Nets on a return trip to the Garden State on their way to the postseason.

This is New Jersey’s fourth consecutive home game to begin the season, a true scheduling rarity and something the Nets must capitalize on because after tonight they begin a brutal stretch wherein they’ll play 7 of their next 9 games on the road. Last season they were a pitiable 4-37 road team.

Center Brook Lopez leads the Nets in scoring this season at close to 25 points per game. PG Devin Harris, now in his seventh year, has averaged almost 19 points and 8 assists over the first three contests. And third overall draft pick Derrick Favors continues to show signs of improvement as he gains NBA experience, averaging 10.0 rebounds and 10.3 points per game so far in his rookie career.

Coach Brown leads the Bobcats and is counting on top scorer F Gerald Wallace (league leader in minutes played) and 11th year veteran G Stephen Jackson (a 1997 second-round draft pick) to help the team gel early this campaign after the departure of long-time starting point guard Raymond Felton to the Knicks in the off-season. It remains to be seen whether the Bobcats will have as much of an impact without Felton and Tyson Chandler, who were both key pieces to last year’s success.

Third-year PG D.J. Augustin, out of the University of Texas, has replaced Felton in the lead guard role. In last game’s loss at Milwaukee he had 26 points and shot 5 of 6 from 3-point land.

Ian and I will cover the action tonight at 7:00 PM EST on YES.